Using Corpus Linguistics to Analyze Reporting Verbs in Literary Narratives

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

April 2017

Faculty Sponsor

Casey Keck


In recent years, scholars have become increasingly interested in how popular nonfiction writers craft narratives that establish shared perspectives with their audience. In the literary community, there is a pressing need to investigate how these narratives have the ability to help us to connect with the greater world around us. To address this need, the present study utilizes the fields of Corpus Linguistics and English Literature to investigate how past tense reporting verbs affects sentence structure in multiple narratives from a single author.

A 138,552 word corpus was compiled of two of author David Sedaris' texts; those texts are Barrel Fever and Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. The collection of texts will be analyzed using Corpus Linguistics software to identify frequently occurring past tense reporting verbs in each of Sedaris' works.

The presentation will describe how particular word combinations in narratives help to foster connections with readers and will also offer recommendations for a greater use of narratives in mainstream English and creative writing classes.

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